TikTok may be the trendsetter of the era, teaching us everything from hair-growth tips to using tape for the perfect winged liner, but dental health professionals say to be wary of the platform’s popular oral-care hacks.
01: Natural Teeth Whitening
“While whitening the teeth with ingredients you can find in your kitchen may provide mild stain removal, the destructive effects of these ingredients outweigh the small benefits,” says Prospect, KY cosmetic dentist Sara Cummins, DDS. “The combination of kiwi and lemon juice provides a significant amount of acid, which is detrimental to the teeth because it dissolves the mineral content of enamel, making it weaker.” Dr. Cummins also notes that adding baking soda to enamel is far too abrasive. For stronger, safer and more effective whitening products, she recommends visiting a professional or purchasing an over-the counter whitening product from a reputable company.
02: TMJ Chiropractor
Visiting a chiropractor for muscles, bones and joints can be extremely helpful for issues such as neck or back pain, but Boca Raton, FL cosmetic dentist Clive Rosenbusch, DDS is hesitant to send his patients to a chiropractor for TMJ treatment. “I am not a believer that this joint should be manipulated,” he says. Instead, he recommends visiting a dentist to diagnose the cause. “Once the reason for pain is determined, I like to use laser treatments to eliminate the pain, and they are very successful.”
03: Closing Gaps With Rubber Bands
“Think of Newton’s Law: For every action, there’s a reaction,” says Los Altos, CA cosmetic dentist Joseph Field, DDS. “When you put a rubber band around a gap in the teeth, they will move, but that opens up spaces elsewhere in an uncontrolled manner, which alters the bite. So, it’s a very short-sighted solution and the results can be very dangerous.” Instead of going the DIY route, he suggests opting for a clear aligner like Invisalign. “This will help the bite and can balance out a big gap between the front teeth, while addressing other spacing in the mouth.”
04: Gummy Smile Surgery
“Gummy smile surgery involves lessening the gum tissue showing during smiling,” says Atlanta cosmetic dentist Ronald Goldstein, DDS. “This can be done by performing surgery to the gums around the teeth or removing some of the bone around the teeth.” Adding that this surgery can make a difference for people who have a “horsey” look, Dr. Goldstein says the best patients for the procedure are those who have a lot of gum tissue showing when they smile, or those who are embarrassed about their smile aesthetics.
05: Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse
Dr. Rosenbusch explains that rinsing with hydrogen peroxide does have its advantages. “It can decrease anaerobic bacteria, which helps lower the chances of developing periodontal disease. It can also wash out debris from the oral cavity.” But, if the hydrogen peroxide is above a concentration of 3 percent and is not mixed with water before rinsing, it can cause damage to the digestive tract. “For this reason, I don’t advise it.”
06: Dental Tourism
“I have had to fix countless smile makeovers after patients have gone overseas to seek a more inexpensive dentist,” says Dr. Field. “While there are some great clinicians in other countries, many patients go to Mexico or Turkey because the procedures there are a fraction of the cost, but they get what they pay for. Many of them end up with aggressive reductions or root canals, which are even more expensive to repair.” His advice: Go to a doctor in the U.S. who offers financing options. Los Altos, CA cosmetic dentist Karl T. Supal, DDS adds that a great way to find a safe doctor is to look at some of the cases they’ve done within the last six months and read reviews.
07: Tooth Gems
“While tooth gems [gems and/or diamonds that are bonded to the teeth] can be a simple procedure, there are important factors to consider,” says Dr. Cummins. “Taller or larger gems have the potential to irritate the surrounding soft tissue, such as the inside of the lips. They can also recess into the enamel of the tooth, which would be an irreversible injury.” The location of the gem should also be considered. “The bite should feel normal and natural after placement. Even the slightest disruption to the bite could have long-term effects.”
08: Flossing With Toothpaste
Noticing decay between your teeth? This TikTok trend might be on your favorite’s list. “Using toothpaste on your floss pick cannot whiten your teeth like an in-office treatment can, but it’s great for preventing decay,” says Dr. Goldstein, who adds that it also works for patients who have decalcification (softening) between the teeth. “To do this, make sure you are using a thick floss and that the fluoride concentration in your toothpaste is high enough. If done every night, you’ll notice a difference in decay.”
09: Oil Pulling
New York cosmetic dentist Timothy Chase, DMD says there are no reliable studies to prove that oil pulling reduces cavities, whitens teeth or improves oral health and well-being. Instead, he advises patients to brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste, floss once a day and avoid tobacco.
10: No-Prep Veneers
Houston cosmetic dentist Guy Lewis, DDS says no-prep veneers can quickly conceal dental problems like teeth that are discolored, chipped, cracked, misshapen, or separated by gaps. However, their biggest benefit is that they do not require reduction of the tooth, which preserves the natural tooth structure.